Agency-based demand for conservatism: evidence from state adoption of antitakeover laws
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We use antitakeover laws passed by several states in the mid-1980s and early 1990s as an exogenous increase in agency conflicts and examine how these laws affect the demand for asymmetric timeliness of loss recognition (ATLR). Consistent with the debt-based contracting demand for ATLR, we find an increase in ATLR after the passage of antitakeover laws for firms with high contracting pressures. These increases are incremental to those found in control firms that face similar pressures but whose states did not pass antitakeover laws. We do not find comparable changes in ATLR for firms with higher agency costs of equity. In contrast to the observed increases in ATLR, we find no change in the short-window information content of earnings announcements. Overall, our results suggest that higher agency conflicts result in a heightened demand for ATLR in financial statements but not for more forward-looking new information. Further, these demands seem to emanate from debtholders and not from equityholders.
KeywordsAsymmetric timely loss recognition Conditional conservatism Anti-takeover laws Agency costs
JEL classificationM40 G18
We thank Russ Lundholm (editor), an anonymous referee, Sugata Roychowdhury, and workshop participants at London Business School for helpful comments.
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